Family · Self

Update. What’s Going on Part II

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I’m back with Part II of the update.  In the last update I told you about finding a special school for my son to attend.  We are still trying to finalize his attendance. Since the school is so small there isn’t a lot of hard core directions or go to persons.

I have yet to remove him from our public school system.  I’m waiting until the first week of class before I do that.  Just in case there is something catastrophic at the new school. I hope things go well.  Right now I have to keep focusing on getting “E” to attend class.  My mind keeps jumping ahead and thinking “Is he going to lose friends? Is he going to make friends? Will the school get accreditation? How will we pay for this?  How can we afford college?  Can we retire?” That’s just a sample.  There is so much more going through my mind.

We were going to send “E” to a week long computer class the school was offering.  It was unfortunately cancelled due to low enrollment.  They had another class the following week.  He couldn’t attend that as he was taking a coding class.  He really wanted to take the coding class.  Since he is not panicked to attend coding we want to encourage that.  I don’t want him to get too agoraphobic. I see hints of it. I also see hints of OCD but it hasn’t gotten to a full blown issue so I am just leaving it.

The funny thing is I planned my schedule around that class. I had cancelled over 9 different appointments to accommodate that class.  Story of my life that.

At home we are still having some trouble with him. Some of it is what he has been diagnosed with, some of it is being a teen, and some is brat or only child syndrome.  I don’t know how to handle it sometimes.  I think because he was so easy as an elementary school aged child he’s making up for it with gusto.

We recently had several appointments with a local psychiatric center that is known for diagnosis and classes to help people with mental limitations or illnesses.  Over the course of two meetings I handed in a two inch thick pile of paperwork on E. We initially went to see if he would qualify for one of their groups.  Mainly to help his severe shyness.

They agreed that he would benefit from several services.  The first thing is family counseling, then they recommended a diad. A diad is two kids and two therapists.  It’s kind of like group therapy but with one other person.  It’s sort of the next step from individual therapy to diad then on to group at one point. They also recommended case management.

They had offered the family therapy right away. However, the time they had would interfere with Erik’s school.  I told them I wanted to be put on the wait list for two different locations near us.  We need to get acclimated to his new school and schedule. Taking him out early would not work for him.  Granted we will be doing this in the future, but I will wait till September before I start it. It would be too much going on for us.  Just like I am putting off E’s eating therapy too. The anxiety, depression and school has to take precedence.

Since “E” couldn’t attend that class we went to the new school last week to meet two of the teachers.  We spent about an hour there.  “E” didn’t want to talk much.  He spent most of the time on his ipad.  It’s his way of coping.  Hopefully, everything will go well. I want to have him develop other coping skills.  Maybe he will get some from the other students.

During this time I also visited a geneticist.  Mainly because breast cancer runs in both sides of my family, and last year’s breast cancer scare. I had just one meeting and she said my risk isn’t any different from the general population.  I wasn’t worried but everyone else in my family makes it a big deal.  Now I can get people off my back.  For me, we all are going to get something.  In fact, we will all get multiple things health wise.  I’m not going to be paranoid.  I just want to take care of myself.

Speaking of which, I have gained weight.  I am so disappointed in myself.  I have to recommit to losing weight.  To losing a significant amount of weight and getting healthy.  Damn, I wish junk food wasn’t so good.  I also want to be more healthy since all this stress has come up.  My body isn’t able to cope.  I have increased panic attacks, nausea and gastrointestinal issues.  I’m exhausted all the time. So much so I can sometimes stay in bed all day. Then the migraines and chronic pain are rearing their heads.  Self care needs to take a more important role too.  I need to get back to regular chiropractor and massage therapist appointments.

This concludes my “update.”  Thanks for letting me rant.  Sometimes you just have to get it off your chest.

 

Self

Update, what’s going on. Part 1.

Placeholder ImageIt’s been a long time since I last updated you on what is going on in my life. It’s still rough. E finished his seventh grade year in public school. He could not get past only 15 minutes in a single math class. He has gone from the advanced group to the below average one. This is a kid who is extremely smart. Who had A’s and B’s before and now barely gets C’s. Since he’s not in class he doesn’t learn everything he needs to. So we’ve been paying for a tutor twice a week. It’s financially painful.

As school ended we met with his teacher and case manager to plan for the upcoming year. We made a list of things we wanted to improve for next year. I only hoped we could get it together by the end of 8th grade. If not, we were going to have problems. I was not only concerned about his anxiety but also his education and social development.

We were at this point taking him to an eating disorder clinic for ARFID twice a week. After several months of going the clinic told us that we didn’t need to come back. They didn’t feel Erik’s problems were the result of ARFID (Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder) but more of a sensory issue. So we will have to try Occupational Therapy and Food Therapy in the future. I have a lead on some places to take him. I am going to hold off until we get his anxiety under control. It’s just too much. The anxiety and depression come first. They overwhelm everything.

In the summer E’s therapist has decided to not do talk therapy anymore and concentrate on his extreme social anxiety. They are going to do exposure therapy. She thinks if he can get a handle on his social anxiety his overall anxiety and depression will get better.  I am glad she is willing to try something new. This doing “challenges” is what helped me to get over anxiety myself.  Knowing that, my husband and I have kept him going places to prevent him from being agoraphobic.

His Psychiatrist says he doesn’t know what else to do for meds.  He’s basically on it and at the max dose for a child.  I still think it should be increased, but I don’t own the prescription pad.  He sees his therapist weekly and his psychiatrist every two months.

We have been having E tutored twice a week during the summer.  We found a tutor through Wyzant app and website.  (No ad, that is just what I did.)  I didn’t have the faintest clue how to find a tutor and this site is really helpful.  He is tutored in Math and some English.  Sometimes he had a good tutoring session other times its a disaster based on  his anxiety. It’s hard for us as it’s a cost that we haven’t anticipated.  I am also tutoring him in History and Life Science.  I was hoping to be done by the end of summer but it may have to go into the new school year starting in September.

This summer we have also been looking for alternative schooling for E instead of the public schools.  The public schools here are very good.  Academically, we have no complaints.  In dealing with them for my son’s illness and disabilities, there is a lot to be desired.   Granted he is one kid among thousands in the district but this is what we pay our taxes for right? We figured that we would give him one more year to turn it around.  He will be in 8th grade this year.

However, after the tour of one of the schools I felt really good about it.  They have a lot of kids with severe anxiety attending.  It was nice to not have to explain E’s situation every time.  Someone “gets” it.  We decided that he would benefit from attending immediately.  Luckily there was a spot left for him.  So we didn’t have to wait.  We have been filling out paperwork and submitting lots of stuff.  Finally, we found out that E was excepted to the new school.  I know he will be nervous, but hopefully this is the thing we need.

The school never has anymore than 32 students.  Depending on the year the total number fluctuates between 25 to 32. Each grade has 2-4 students. I know it will be rough.  I hope this helps and he makes friends. The options that are left are not that great.  If they are really options at all.

I will continue updating you on what else is going on in Part II.

 

 

 

Self

Update

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It’s been awhile since I have updated everyone on my life.  Honestly, it still feels out of control.  It’s like I almost don’t have my footing.

As I wrote before, I have just gotten over a severe case of pneumonia over two months ago.  It was horrible.  I still don’t feel as if I have recovered from it.  In the past two months I have gotten a lot of stomach bugs and one regular cold.  Ah Winter, the season that keeps on giving. I just haven’t felt right since. I was pretty rundown before the pneumonia.  However,  this feels different.  I think since I am still under a lot of stress my body just can’t take it.

I have had to miss so many appointments and cancel out on people in the last few months. I really hate doing that.  Appointments are so hard to come by. I tried to avoid  same day cancellations.  I try to at least get the provider their tip so they don’t lose out on money.  Fortunately, I only had one or two that I had to do that way.

I am trying very hard to get back to feeling better.  More water, eating better and trying to get out of the house.  I have also spent more time doing self care.  Going to bed early, getting a massage and other things. I still have a long way to go.

My son is still at the same point as he was at the last update.  He can only manage about 15 minutes in one normal class.  I have no idea what to do next. His therapist and I are challenging him to do one extra minute a day. So far he hasn’t done it. If he can do one extra minute a day, he will be up to an hour at the end of the year.

In addition to his mental health therapy I have started to take him to an eating disorder clinic.  It was the same one he went through last year. So I returned with him on an outpatient basis.  He goes to a dietician at night and family therapy in the afternoon. So far I’ve gotten him to eat a banana but not much else new.  Apple no, Tater Tots no, and other things?? At least he is crazy about Ramen.  He eats about 4 bowls a day.  The only problem is he eats noodles.  What I need help with is fruits and veggies of which he eats none.  I’m not 100% certain of the diagnosis of ARFID, as an eating disorder.  The also want me to start seeing and OT again.  They are going to try and get referrals for me for my son.  Another provider to visit?  I don’t know.  He saw an OT for over a year a few years ago. It didn’t do any good.  Would a different OT do anything?

He’s seeing a tutor twice a week on the weekends.  He isn’t in math class long enough to understand the teaching.  However, everything he turns in is late because we have to wait for the tutor. I have purchased a Life Science and History textbook to help him understand what he missed in the school year this summer.

I see my son getting left behind. I don’t know what to do.  He gets upset and goes through crying spells and anger at this anxiety. I don’t know what else to do.

I have gotten to go somewhere for fun twice in the last six months.  I went to a flower show which was cute.  Then I also saw a decorator home open for charity.  I think I need to get out more!

 

Family

UPDATE

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Oh boy, it’s time for an update. So much has gone on since September, the last time I updated you.  Honestly, the last two months have been so physically and mentally draining that I don’t want to recap them. I am drained. All I have the energy to do is listen to podcasts.  Even then, I find myself falling asleep sitting up. I the energetic equivalent of a garden slug.  Although, I’m pretty sure the garden slug has more pep.

I keep hoping for progress. My son has had difficulty since school started.  We had to reschedule and restructure his day multiple times.  He has been routinely having panic attacks.  It got to the point where he could only go to three classes.  I was also called a lot due to him having panic attacks and needing me. Sometimes the call would go to voice mail and all I could hear was my son’s incoherent stuttering on the other end. I would often come to sit with him in the office.

Once the school physically walked him to class and sat with him.  Then they refused to let him call me.  I wrote a very strongly worded letter that they could not do that again.  I’ve got a kid suffering from horrible anxiety and was hospitalized for suicide attempts.  Not the kid you want to upset and embarrass in front of his peers.  I had trouble getting him to go back.  I told him I made sure that it would never happen again. I do not think the school was very happy with me after that.  There was definitely a cool reception for me after that.

I understand that they had the best intentions for him at heart.  However, many people do not understand anxiety disorders.  There is a lack of understanding and empathy for those with mental health issues in general.  My kid is normal.  He just has this issue.

I kept taking my son to school, sometimes staying hours there myself.

The school kept pushing me to enroll him in another school and another program.  I felt we couldn’t give into the anxiety and would just have to work within the school parameters.  Then we got a letter from the Dean of students saying he had to meet with us because our son had missed too many days of school and is a truancy problem. He said we needed a plan for my son.  Um, that’s what I thought we had going with the school.  I kept thinking why doesn’t this guy know?  Don’t they all communicate?

My understanding was that the school and my son’s therapist were working together.  So I made the appointment.  We get together with the dean and some other members of staff.  So the Dean has us fill out this paperwork for the county. So we begin to answer all his questions and he fills out the form. We went through everything that has happened in the last year and what we have done.

Halfway through filling out the form he stopped writing as he ran out of room on the form.  He was very surprised at how much we had done.   In fact, we have done everything.  There could be no more recommendations. The “plan” was the same one we had before.  To slowly get E to integrate into each classroom. Like to keep adding five minutes each day until he can stay for the whole period.  Unfortunately, this was not working.

Several weeks pass and I get a notice for another meeting.  This time with more staff, most of the people I have dealt with before.  E has not been improving.  So they try to force my hand.  They wanted him to go to school at the other junior high and be involved with this special program.  He would be in a room with kids who have high functioning autism.  He would have two classes there and then be in regular classes for the rest of the day.

If he can’t go to regular classes at his old school with teachers he knows, how is he going to attend regular classes at a new school?  I know the stress would push him over.  Homeschooling is not an option.  He can’t stay at home for the rest of his life.  Making his circle smaller only increases the anxiety.  So I felt we were at a stand still.  My husband thought we should try it.

He often agrees with whatever the person running it says.  He doesn’t deal with the schools and doctors like I do.  I get so angry at him for this.  I have dealt with anxiety and depression my whole life.  It runs in my family.  I know what I am talking about.  These are administrators and teachers, not mental health professionals.  So what to do?

Then it dawns on me.  I will let him go to the new school if he gets to stay in that special room for every class.  They will only integrate him if he is comfortable. That way he is with the same teacher and same aides.  It will help alleviate his stress.  They have two weeks to see if this works.  If he gets worse, he is going back to his own school.  If he is the same or better he can stay.  He will still have a new case manager and social worker.  At least he knows the school nurse as she is our neighbor.  It’s hard to leave everything you know.  Even if you don’t go to it all.  So far nothing has improved but it has not gotten worse either.

I have had to pick him up a few times due to the anxiety making him unable to do anything.

In reading the paperwork done by the dean of students I noticed that it said that if no changes were made the matter would be referred to the district attorney.  Huh?  They told me this was just a formality.  So I called our family attorney.  She said she knew what it was, but there was nothing to worry about.  She said they do that if there are families where the parents won’t or can’t help their kids. Since we have been doing everything and can prove it, the county will do nothing.  That was a relief.

Also, at this time, I took my son to his therapist. The therapist up to this point has been trying to get E to work on his anxiety and being supportive.  This time she decided to play bad cop.  She really lit into my son and had him distraught.  She told him that we (his parents) were going to get into trouble and he would be taken away.  Then she told him she wouldn’t see him again until he could go to four classes.  This didn’t work and he was so upset he thought he was going to be put up for adoption.  Don’t know where that came from. I spent the next few days telling him he wouldn’t be taken from us.  He clung to me so tightly.  This changed nothing.  Now, I am trying to find a new therapist b/c he won’t go back to the old one.

I spent a week trying to get him into a new therapist in town.  I called 4 times and sent one email.  No response.  So now I have a phone call into a new place.  I hope the will call me back.  I really feel that he needs some counseling. I have also started calling a second therapy group as a back up.  They are not taking new clients and have an extensive wait list.  So they gave me the name of another therapist to try.

We have increased some of his meds.  He still has his psychiatrist. E has however lost weight.  So the psychiatrist is worried.  E won’t eat any breakfast or lunch because of his anxiety.  Add to that his sensory issues and he barely eats anything. He definitely does not have a balanced diet.  We try to supplement things with nutritional shakes and supplements.  It’s the best we can do.

Our son’s grandmother came to visit for about a week.  I spent that week, both morning and evening, sleeping.  I was so exhausted I couldn’t get enough rest.  I think since I can trust grandma to handle things my body was trying to catch up and rest.

I want desperately to have a different life.  I just feel so buried with everything I don’t know what to do.  I have ideas of directions to go, but time?

I’ll update you again shortly.

 

Family

Giving You a Quick Update…

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Hello everyone.  I”m sure you have noticed that I have been a little MIA the last two weeks.  My son has started back at school.  He wanted to go to school and his depression has improved greatly.  His anxiety still showed, but he was doing much better.

The first week of school he did okay. He had some panic attacks but was able to attend most of class.  He had a difficult time with Health, Science and History.  Not so much due to academics, but due to the subjects they were studying.  He can’t handle things with blood, or creepy.  The school allowed him to drop health.  Then we were able to transfer him to an Earth Science class. We will have to take history as it comes.

The second week of school he missed a lot. I ended up going to school  to sit with him and spending time waiting there.  He barely spent time in class.  So we had an emergency meeting with the special education department and the school social worker.  They tweaked his schedule even more.

A few times when I had to go to school to be with him. I found him shaking from his nerves. So I put in a phone call to his psychiatrist.  He prescribed a fast acting medication to help him get through the day.  After two days, it was not working enough so the psychiatrist increased the medication.  It made him too sleepy to go to class and he still had panic.  He was just tired with panic. So we went back down to a lower dose and were able to get into see the doctor soon.  I think we will have to wean him off the current meds and put him on new ones.

The poor kid doesn’t eat much either.  I worry about him so much.  Today, was the first day he went to school with the new schedule.  He made it almost through to the third period.  Hopefully, tomorrow we can make it to fourth period.  The stress has been very bad for me.  I ended up throwing up today.  It just hit me out of the blue. I haven’t been ill from stress in over thirteen years.

I am hoping I can get this figured out. It’s been a draining year.  My son’s anxiety is primarily related to school. He used to have it in other places, but we have made a conscious effort to help him overcome his going out phobia.  He still is socially extremely shy but can mange.

When he is in his element, he shines.  When he goes to coding class after school he shines. He is able to talk about anything computer related.  In school, if he does things with computers it really brings him out of his shell.  I can only hope that it can grow into other areas.

I will keep you posted.  Wish us luck.

Self

What Are Anxiety Disorders or Panic Attacks?

 

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I write a lot about anxiety and panic attacks.  It occurred to me that few people may know what the definitions and symptoms are. Even definitions since I was first diagnosed have changed.  While the wheel in mental health has not been reinvented it has been refined.  It evolves, and continues to evolve as modern medicine makes new discoveries about the brain.

Anxiety Disorder is a constant, excessive and nonstop worry or worries that occur almost all day, every day.  It will interfere with you day to day life.  Physically you can experience symptoms such as stomach aches, vomiting, feeling like you are going to throw up, sore muscles, tiredness, anger, dizziness and many more.

Anxiety Disorder can include panic disorder/panic attacks,  agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder, and other forms of anxiety.  Anxiety has many related disorders and can coexist with other mental and physical illnesses.

Everyone experiences anxiety right?  Just tough it out, right?  Wrong, any type of Anxiety Disorder when experienced is more persistent,overwhelming and debilitating than normally experienced anxiety.  It interferes with you daily life. You get up to leave a crowded theater even when you really want to see the show.  You can’t fall asleep no matter how tired you are.  You ruminate on certain or all worries to the point of inaction no matter how remote or silly they seem to others. You have physical ailments that begin to appear and cannot be resolved by normal medications. You begin to avoid places because you start to relate them to feeling awful.

The cause of anxiety is unknown.  It can be a variety of factors from biological, genetic, experiences, environment and more.  For me, I believe that it was a combination.  Panic Attacks, Generalized Anxiety Disorder and more run in my family.  While my paternal grandmother was not formally diagnosed I believe she had it.  My father was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.  I was diagnosed with Panic Disorder and others, and my son was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. Then I believe the way I was raised also contributed to my anxiety as it added stress to an already stressful life.

I made a vow to raise my son differently and I did.  To watch him get it and go through it nearly killed me and triggered my own anxiety again.  It was devastating to me.  “What did I do?”, I thought. What didn’t I do?  The thing is nothing I could have done, would have prevented my son from getting it due to our genetic predisposition.  What I can effect is how his treatment and support is.  How he handles what his disorder is doing to him.  That’s because Anxiety is a disorder/disease just like cancer, or diabetes.  Now before you go off telling me cancer etc are different, understand that I say this because many people believe that mental illness is a character flaw and not a medical condition. We should be able to think it away.  There are a few that can. Most people need therapy and lifestyle changes.  Some also need those and medicine.

Anxiety effects every relationship you have.  It effects every opportunity that comes your way.  For me, I lost over four years of my life that I can’t get back.  You need all the support you can get.  Overcoming your own mind is one of the most difficult things a person can do.

Then there is the fear of what other people think.  Will they think that I am crazy?  Will  they stop wanting to be around me?  What if I am discriminated against. Recently in the news a member of the ground crew in Seattle stole a small jet, went on a joy ride and crashed it.  On several different news channels they were asking if ground crews were screened for mental illness.  It made my heart sink.  First, we have no idea if this man had mental illnesses or not.  So why speculate.  Second most people with mental illness do not harm themselves, fewer harm others. There are already some things that those with mental illness cannot do.  One of my greatest fears is the information age and mental illness.  Where someone can with the touch of a button get your medical history and use it to disqualify you from a job or community.

How do you treat anxiety?  It really depends on the individual.  Each person must have their own type of treatment.  Which is how mental illness differs from other illnesses of the body.  One of the more successful treatments is CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This type of therapy involves changing your thinking and habits to manage your anxiety.  In addition, medication can be prescribed to help you control and minimize your anxiety. What medication and how much depends on each person. It’s important that you maintain contact with your medical providers to ensure you get the best care possible.

I myself have been on so many medications.  Some worked better than others. Some side effects are worse or better. Only one medicine did not work for me.  I’ve been changed around many times.  Sometimes, I can’t keep track of everything I’ve been on. This is the hardest part of a disorder.  Finding the right combo of drugs to use.  If you are at this stage please keep the faith.  It may take an extended period of time to find the right combo of medication.  Then again, you may not even need meds or you can get it right on the first dose!

Panic Attacks are acute, intense instances of fear.  They can last for a few seconds to a few hours.  The often can come out of the blue, but some also are triggered by circumstances.  The fear is so intense that it can cause you to flee the area, feel like you are having a heart attack or a break down. You feel as if your body and mind operate separately. The biggest part of these attacks are learning to regain control of you body again.  It involves relaxation, deep breathing and other techniques to bring down the intensity of the reaction.  Short lasting medications are also used for certain patients to take the edge off the attack.

For more information or diagnosis, please contact your doctor for a referral to a mental health professional.  You can also check out the website of The Anxiety and Depression Association of America at http://www.adaa.org, Web MD, or NAMI The National Alliance on Mental Illness at http://www.NAMI.org .

This article is an opinion piece and not to be used for self diagnosis or in place of advice from a medical professional.

 

 

Home · Self

Life Update

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Life happens.  I think my life is happening a little too much at the moment.  I had to take some time off due to events.  I can’t seem to catch a break or relax enough.  Right now I do what needs to be done, then I just can’t do anymore.  I just listen to music or podcasts.  It’s all I have energy for.

My son is still having problems.  School is a month away.  Right now he is in day treatment.  He absolutely hates it.  He goes for three hours a day.  Many of the kids in treatment with him are physically violent or swear and use every manner of bad language.  It is common to hear a 7 year old scream at the top of his lungs “F*ck You, you stupid c*nt.” Wonderful.  My son has Sensory Processing Disorder and High Functioning Autism.  He hates this.  He also says he is hit for no reason.  I know he is telling the truth.  Unfortunately, if the therapists don’t see it, they can do nothing.

I hate to send him here.  However, there is no other place to go.  If I could find a therapist willing to see my son several times a week I would.  There isn’t anyone like that.  Therapists have long waiting lists.

I have even started to have my own panic attacks. I have had 3 so far.  I will definitely need my own medication adjusted.  I’ve avoided a few places because of the attacks which I shouldn’t do.  Bad example for my son.

On a happier note, my family has acquired two new members. We adopted two 12 week old kittens, brothers, from a local pet rescue.  One is a tuxedo cat (black and white) named May.  The other is a grey/brown striped Tabby named Winter.  They were for my son as a way to help distract him from his depression and anxiety.  He was so thrilled to get them.  Check out my Instagram for photos.

I get the joy of cleaning the litter box and feeding them. They are very curious about everything.  Just for the record, I am allergic to cats. I have 5 air filters going all the time.  So far I am getting by.

I also made some zucchini muffins and banana cake.  Check out the blog for recipes.

We have also had issues with insurance. They are giving us the run around on my son’s treatment. I’m sure some random doctor in another state who has never met my son is qualified to decide what treatment he should receive and what he should not.  My son right now is in a day treatment program.  This is the only one we could get him into.  Some programs have three year waiting lists.  We could not wait any longer than a few days.  My son needed therapy.  So he has been going to this program Monday thru Friday for three hours.  He absolutely hates it.

I knew he would.  When I was filling out the paperwork for it, they had two pages on parole officers, and court ordered treatment.  I didn’t feel this was right for my son.  My son has anxiety and depression.   He is not a juvenile delinquent. He is with the 12 and under group.  However these kids are not like the kids he was with in his stabilization places. As stated in the first paragraph, it’s not a good environment.

Starting this month insurance will only pay for three days.  My husband and I can pay for one, and he will have one day off.  I am hoping he can survive being back at school full time.  He has expressed anxiety.  I can only hope for the best.

Until next time.